WASHINGTON, DC — The Phi Beta Kappa Society has named Jill Lepore, David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and Affiliated Faculty at Harvard Law School, the recipient of its Sidney Hook Memorial Award. Phi Beta Kappa presented the award to Lepore on October 10th at the 44th Triennial Council of the Society, in Denver, Colorado.
The award, established in 1991 in memory of the distinguished American philosopher and Phi Beta Kappa member Sidney Hook (1902-1989), recognizes national distinction by an individual in each of three endeavors — scholarship, undergraduate teaching and leadership in the cause of liberal arts education. A grant from the John Dewey Foundation supports the Award’s cash prize. Phi Beta Kappa presents the award once every three years.
Lepore received a B.A. in English from Tufts University in 1987, an M.A. in American Culture from the University of Michigan in 1990, and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University in 1995. She joined the Harvard History Department in 2003 and was Chair of the History and Literature Program in 2005-10, 2012, and 2014. In 2012, Harvard named her Harvard College Professor in recognition of distinction in undergraduate teaching. She is a staff writer for The New Yorker, to which she has been contributing since 2005.
Lepore's most recent book is The Secret History of Wonder Woman, a New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2015 American History Book Prize. Her next book, Joe Gould's Teeth, will be published in 2016. Her earlier work includes a trilogy of books that constitute a political history of early America: The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity, winner of Phi Beta Kappa’s Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, the Bancroft Prize, and the Berkshire Prize; New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan, winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Award for the best nonfiction book on race and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, Time magazine's Best Nonfiction Book of the Year, winner of the Mark Lynton History Prize, and a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award for Nonfiction
Three of her books derive from her New Yorker essays: The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death; The Story of America: Essays on Origins; and The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle for American History.
From 2011-2013, Lepore was a Visiting Scholar of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. In 2014, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences elected her a member. She has presented numerous scholarly and public lectures, including the John L. Hatfield Lecture at Lafayette College, the Lewis Walpole Library Lecture at Yale, the Harry F. Camp Memorial Lecture at Stanford and the University of Kansas Humanities Lecture.
In 2015, she will deliver the Theodore H. White Lecture on Press and Politics at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. In 2016, she will deliver the Patten Lectures at Indiana University, as well as the Richard Leopold Lecture on Public Affairs at Northwestern University. In 2017, she will deliver the F. E. L. Priestley Memorial Lectures in the History of Ideas at the University of Toronto.
Lepore lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and their three sons.